For those new to the area and to the state understanding the state educational testing system can be a bit overwhelming. Which Texas Assessment Tests will your child take and at which grade level will they be administered?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and Texas educators developed a new assessment system in response to requirements set forth by the 80th and 81st Texas legislatures. The new system went into effect for the 2011-2012 school year.

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) system is focused on “increasing postsecondary readiness of graduating high school students” and “helping to ensure that Texas students are competitive with other students – both nationally and internationally.” The STAAR assessment program replaces the previous Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) program and includes the main STAAR test as well as several modified options.

We’ve included brief descriptions of each test from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website; for more detailed information and any questions about the Texas Assessment Tests contact TEA’s Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536 or visit www.tea.state.tx.us.

TEXAS ASSESSMENT TESTS and What They Mean

STAAR™ (replaces TAKS)

As with the TAKS assessment students are tested during their public school career in core subject areas including reading writing mathematics science and social studies. The number of tests taken each year will vary from two to four depending on the grade level. The STAAR tests for elementary and middle school grades will cover the same subjects and grades as the TAKS testing program. At the high school level 12 (EOC) assessments will replace grade-specific tests.

STAAR™ Modified (replaces TAKS–Modified)

Beginning with the 2011–2012 school year STARR Modified replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills–Modified (TAKS–M) for third through entering ninth grade students who meet the STAAR Modified participation requirements. STAAR Modified includes end-of-course (EOC) assessments and new grades 3–8 assessments that were implemented during the 2011–2012 school year.

STAAR™ Alternate (replaces TAKS-Alternate)

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) developed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Alternate (STAAR™ Alternate) to meet the federal requirements mandated under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) a federal education law previously known as No Child Left Behind. STAAR Alternate is designed for the purpose of assessing students in grades 3–8 and high school who have significant cognitive disabilities and are receiving special education services.

Students in grades 3-11 who are eligible for an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards will take STARR Alternate beginning with the 2011-2012 schools years. TAKS Alt will no longer be available.

STAAR™-L

STAAR-L is a linguistically accommodated English version of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grades 3–8 and end-of-course (EOC) mathematics science and social studies assessments. STAAR-L is designed for English language learners (ELLs) who “meet participation requirements for a substantial degree of linguistic accommodation in these subject areas.” All STAAR L-assessments were administered in paper mode for the 2011-2012 school year; beginning in 2013 STAAR-L will be administered as an online testing program.